PLAYING THE GAME

By Dave Clapper

I visit the fragmentarium in my cranium, but the
constellations are all fucked up, and I know my neurons
are misfiring again. Shit shit shit fuck. Rattling my
pocket, I withdraw a handful and take double the
recommended dose of Ritalin, quadruple the dose of
Depakote. That ought to do it.

But I know it'll take time to line everything up and
I'm impatient. I have work to do. In the bathroom, I
ponder the mirror and the scar that runs down the
center of my scalp. It's a good dotted line to cut
along and I know where the scalpel is. Slice easy, I'm
used to it, hardly notice the pain anymore.

Yup, they're going nuts in there. Lefties on the left
and right, righties on the right and left, they're all
over the place. Damn it. But I've gotten good at this.
No problem. Just to be sure, I shake a few more
Ritalins into my palm and down my gullet. And some
Percocet. I need to concentrate.

The slit's open and I pull out the two-sided mirror
that I have for just this purpose. It slots in easy and
I start playing the game. In out in out in out, slide
it back and forth to bounce the neurons to their proper
sides--they must have played Red Rover while I was
sleeping.

Good video game this, I am my own GameBoy. Boing boing
boing, off they go, retreating to their own corners as
they ping ping ping off the silvered glass. Eight
neuron, corner pocket. Slotted. Bang.

It takes about five minutes and I have all the neurons
grouped where they're supposed to be. I let the glass
rest inside my brain for a while, brush my teeth,
shave, make myself presentable for the outside world
before removing my mirror Mohawk and stitching back
up.

***

I fucked up this morning. I put the lefties on the
right and the righties on the left. My spreadsheets are
awash in frantic colors and my paintings are Mondrian
squares of black and white. I could lop off my head and
replace it backwards and I'd think straight, but I know
I'd walk into walls.


Dave Clapper lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two sons.
He has been published in InkPot, 3AM Magazine, Pindeldyboz, and Tryst,
among others. He is the Editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.

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